Even in third place, Firehawks host a winner in Glouberman Tournament

Heschel Heat wins boys’ contest, defeating YULA 61-39

AGGRESSION: FireHawk star point guard Asher Remer leapt toward the basket as a member of the Berman Cougars jumped to block him.

Bleachers, broadcasts and giant posters of Firehawk players’ heads were just a few of the signs of excitement surrounding the first Steve Glouberman Basketball Tournament when it finally debuted in the Shalhevet gym Nov. 12-15. Four days, 14 bracketed teams and 32 basketball games later, the Heschel Heat of New York City cruised to the boys’ title while the Lady Firehawks were champions on the girls’ side.

Shalhevet boys finished in third place after only suffering one loss — a three point semi-finals defeat to their cross-town rivals, the YULA Panthers. The Lady Firehawks defeated the Frisch Cougars for the girls’ title.

Games were played in the new Shalhevet gym and the nearby Westside JCC.  On-campus games were broadcast live via thecube.com, with play-by-play and color commentary by staff of the Boiling Point.

“It was an unqualified success,” said Head of School Rabbi Ari Segal, who had planned to have a nationwide basketball meet since before the new building was built.  “Our guests felt great, the basketball was fantastic, it brought a tremendous amount of pride to our community, and, of course, it honored Steve’s memory in a really profound way.”

Along with Shalhevet and Heschel, teams competed from De Toledo (formerly New Community Jewish High School) and YULA from Los Angeles, along with Frisch of Paramus, N.J., Salanter Akiba Riverdale (SAR) Academy of Riverdale, N.Y., Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) of Teaneck, N.J., Abraham Joshua Heschel School of New York City, Berman Hebrew Academy of Rockville, Md., and Akiva Hebrew Day School of Southfield, Mich.

All the visiting players were housed with Shalhevet and non Shalhevet families–46 families in all made space in their homes, according to Director of Development Claire Benyowitz, who managed hospitality.

The tournament also hosted a  barbecue dinner Thursday night and full Shabbaton consisting of Shabbat dinner and Seudat Shlishit, along with a ceremony in honor of Steve Glouberman z”l, the Shalhevet parent for whom the tournament was named. All three of his children – Leah ’14, and twins Rachel and Jeremy ’15 – were there, Jeremy having flown in from Israel where he is studying at Torat Shraga yeshiva for his gap year.

In the boys’ contest, the Heschel Heat were the clear favorite of the tournament, outscoring their opponents by double figures in each of their five games — including a 61-39 outpour against the YULA Panthers to win the championship.

Heschel stars Aaron Brandeis and Sam Schwartzben were named the most valuable players of the boys’ tournament. Senior Joe Schnitzer the three-point contest, for making the most three-point shots over the course of all boys’ games.

Since it took place in Los Angeles, perhaps the most hyped up game of the tournament was Shalhevet boys’ semi-final match against YULA. Hundreds of fans from both teams packed into the gym that Saturday night to watch a low-scoring game that was relatively close throughout, ending with a Panther victory of 39-36.  Shalhevet fans waved two-by-three-foot black-and-white posters of their players’ faces in the crowd.

Shalhevet senior Asher Remer, who attended YULA for his first three years of high school, knew it would be an emotional game for him, and the Panther fans were extra loud every time he touched the ball.

“There are many emotions comings with playing YULA,” Asher said right before the game. “I have close friends playing and in the stands because I’ve been going to school with them three years prior. It’s definitely going to be hard when they’re rooting against you.”

Fans reported that Asher was verbally harassed when he got near the sidelines, with YULA fans chanting things like “We don’t want you.”

“I really didn’t even hear them when I was playing,” Asher said. “Once the game starts the adrenalin takes over and you’re in your own world.”

With YULA up by three points in the final seven seconds, Shalhevet had a chance to send the game to overtime. The inbound pass went by Joe and was recovered by junior Edan Sokol close to the half court line.

Edon drove inside and kicked it out to Jacob Dauer at the top of the key. With just a few seconds left, Jacob was left with no choice but to fling a contested, fade-away three-pointer which didn’t fall.

At the sound of the buzzer, Panther fans stormed the court despite Shalhevet star junior Eitan Halpert laying down on the floor, which sparked a brief altercation between the two sides since the Firehawks were afraid Eitan would get trampled. 

“It was a good win, we fought really hard,” said Panther forward David Sassoon afterwards. “I credit all of my teammates moving the ball and that resulted in me being open. That’s just a result of good ball movement.”

Shalhevet officials said they planned to host the tournament again next year. According to Rabbi Segal, they have met a few times to debrief and find areas for improvement. He said they would not decide how many or which teams to invite next year for at least another few months.

Only half the games were played at Shalhevet.  The rest were played at the Westside Jewish Community Center, about a quarter-mile southeast of Shalhevet on Olympic Boulevard.

One potential change next year would be finding an alternative to the JCC. A lack of air conditioning and slippery court surface there were among problems cited by Rabbi Segal.

Also, the internet was not sufficient for webcasting.

“For the first year of a tournament, it was incredible,” Rabbi Segal said later. “There will always be some bumps in the road, but the tournament was really smooth and that’s a tribute to all of the volunteers and Shalhevet staff who worked tirelessly to make this happen.”

Athletic Director Eli Schiff ran the clock for all but one game at the JCC. He said that the atmosphere at the JCC was similar to that of the Shalhevet gym when the Shalhevet teams were not playing – that is, mostly quiet – except for during a lunchtime YULA game which attracted a larger audience of YULA fans.

All five Sunday playoff games were played at Shalhevet, spread throughout the day.

Mr. Schiff said he was fine with being stationed at the JCC for most of the tournament and missing all the excitement in the Shalhevet gym.

“The only game I really would have loved to see was the Shalhevet-YULA game, but it was recorded and I watched that afterwards,” Mr. Schiff said.

As of Jan. 13, the Firehawks hold a 15-7 record overall. The boys team won the Milken Classic Tournament, which was held Dec. 1-3, winning three games and defeating Milken in the finals by a score of 59-50.